Board Minutes - September 13, 2005

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County of Inyo

Board of Supervisors

 

 

The Board of Supervisors of the County of Inyo, State of California, met in regular session at the hour of 8:30 a.m., on Tuesday, September 13, 2005, in the Board of Supervisors Room, County Administrative Center, Independence, with the following Supervisors present:  Chairperson Ted Williams presiding, Linda Arcularius, Susan Cash, Jim Bilyeu, and Richard Cervantes.  Supervisor Cervantes provided the Invocation, and Supervisor Williams led the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Closed Session

The Chairperson recessed open session at 8:30 a.m., to convene in closed session, with all Board Members present, to discuss Agenda Item No. 8.  CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL EXISTING LITIGATION (Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a) - Sierra Club v. City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power, Inyo County Superior Court Case No. SICVCV01-29768 (1).  The Chairperson recessed closed session at 9:30 a.m., to reconvene in open session, with all Board Members present.

 

Public Comment

The Chairperson announced the public comment period and there was no one from the public wishing to address the Board.

 

County Dept. Reports

The Chairperson announced the County Department Report Period.  The Planning Director, Ms. Leslie Klusmire, began by providing an update on the recently held AULG Meeting, which was attended by herself, and Supervisors Cervantes and Williams.  She went on to provide an in depth report on last week’s Washington, D.C., trip.  As the report became more detailed, the Chairperson requested that a formal report be agendized in the future, to give the Board the opportunity to participate in the discussions and provide direction to Staff on how to proceed.  After Ms. Klusmire explained the urgency in having Board input prior to next week’s meeting, the Chairperson requested that County Counsel work with the Planning Director to bring back a Post Agenda Item on this matter for the Board’s consideration later in today’s meeting.

 

Fish & Game/AB 193 Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery Legislation

Supervisor Bilyeu provided additional information on the request for the Board to support AB 193 to allow the Friends of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery to lease a portion of the hatchery.  Supervisor Arcularius commended the efforts of Assemblymen Cogdill and Maze for their help in getting this legislation before the Governor.  Moved by Supervisor Bilyeu and seconded by Supervisor Cash to approve the letter to Governor Schwarzenegger requesting his signature signing AB 193 in law, which allows the Friends of the Mt. Whitney Hatchery to lease a portion of the hatchery for environmental education purposes and other related activities designed to benefit the hatchery and the Community; and authorize the Chairperson to sign.  Motion carried unanimously.

 

BofS/Darwin CDBG Project

Supervisor Cervantes introduced his request to have the Board receive comments regarding the Darwin CDBG Water Project.  He reiterated his position that he is disappointed in the bureaucracy that put this project in jeopardy and that he wants the County to help make this project a success.  Ms. Kathy Goss of the Darwin CSD (DCSD), presented the Board with a copy of the timeline of events, which have led up to the current project being in jeopardy.  She also informed the Board that an extension is required if the project is to be completed. The President of the DCSD Board also addressed the Board to express his support for requesting an extension. 

Mr. Ron Chegwidden, Acting Public Works Director, provided clarifying remarks on the timeline.  He explained that Public Contract Code requires bids be circulated and fail twice before alternative remedies can be considered.  He noted that every time there is a change in the Plans and Specifications, it restarts the clock from the beginning, requiring approval of the changed specs by the Board of Supervisors and two more failed bid attempts.  He agreed with the DCSD’s recommendation that a grant extension be sought. 

Supervisor Arcularius suggested that Mr. Chegwidden explore the possibility of the County meeting face to face with CDBG representatives to present the County’s case for an extension in person.  Supervisor Arcularius also suggested that the County seek formal input from local contractors  explaining why no bids were forthcoming, which she felt may help support the County’s position.  Mr. Chegwidden indicated that he would proceed as directed and keep the Board informed as to the outcome of the request for an extension.

  

Water Dept./ Water Commission Recommend-ations For Water Dept. Operations

Mr. Paul Lamos, Inyo County Water Commissioner, addressed the Board to briefly review the Water Commission’s recommendations to (a) amend the Green Book in order to have better cooperation between the County and DWP on the development of a more realistic annual pumping plan; (b) to fund and staff the Water Department to secure and protect the County’s ability to monitor the activities of the Department of Water and Power in the County; and (c) seek a change in purpose for the $5,000 per day fine money which is being paid by DWP and which the Judge allotted to pay for post implementation costs for the LORP. 

The Chairperson called for public input.  The Assistant Clerk noted for the record a joint letter from the Owens Valley Committee and the Sierra Club which supported the Water Commission recommendations, and read an e-mailed letter from Mr. Daniel Pritchett, not supporting the Water Commission’s recommendations regarding the modifications to the Green Book and suggesting that should the Board approve this portion of the recommendations that the reference to “Montgomery Watson Harza” be omitted and that any revisions to the Green Book include provisions for realizing the goal of the Drought Recovery Policy (DRP).  Members of the audience who addressed the Board to support and advocate for the Water Commission’s recommendations were: Mr. Derrick Vocelka of the Owens Valley Committee, Mr. Claus Englehardt of the Sierra Club, Ms. Darla Heil, Mr. Ken Lloyd, Inyo County Water Commissioner, Mr. Harry Williams of the Owens Valley Committee, Ms. Angela Jayko of the League of Women Voters, Ms. Betty Denton, and Mr. Mike Prather. 

The Board and Members of the audience discussed the Commission’s recommendations in detail and at length, with the discussions including:

(a) the need to secure funding to cover the on-going LORP post implementation costs, which the County is committed to paying for through the Long Term Water Agreement;

(b) exploring the option of a tax being implemented to fund the Water Department;

(c) the timeline for developing Green Book revisions; and

(d) the ability of the Water Department to actually implement changes in the provisions of the Green Book.

As the discussions proceeded between the Board, Staff and members of the audience, some members of the audience addressed the Board to oppose the next item to be considered which is the Agreement between the County and DWP on LORP funding.  The discussions on the Agreement included those members of the audience identifying the following concerns:  (a) their distrust of DWP’s offer; (b) their desire to keep EPA involved in the LORP Project; and (c) the need to get more money from DWP if an offer was going to be accepted.   At the conclusion of the public input on this item, the Board addressed each of the Water Commission’s recommendations individually. 

With regard to Recommendation A) regarding revisions to the groundwater management provisions of the Green Book, the Board and Mr. Phil McDowell, Acting Water Director, discussed developing a work plan for this project, including a schedule for accomplishing recommendations for changes in the Green Book.  Supervisor Cash requested that monthly reports be provided to the Board on the progress of this project.  Moved by Supervisor Cash and seconded by Supervisor Arcularius to direct Staff to make the development of provisions to augment or replace the existing groundwater management provisions of the Green Book, including the DRP, a priority to be completed within one year and if possible to work cooperatively with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and their consultants in this work, and if cooperative effort is not possible the Department is to conduct the work independently.  Motion carried unanimously.  

With regard to Recommendation B) to provide sufficient funding to the Water Department (using funds allowed under Court Order of August 8, 2005 per the next recommendation or General Funds if funds do not become available for use by the Water Department under the Court Order,) to prevent the loss of its current GIS/LAN Coordinator and to adequately staff the Department so that it can perform the work directed above and other work of the department including monitoring and analysis, enhancement and mitigation projects, mitigation measures and the Lower Owens River Project, the Board indicated that this item would be more appropriately considered during the discussion of the Water Department Budgets, which will take place when the Board continues their Budget Hearings later this afternoon.  The Board invited and encouraged the members of the audience to stay and participate in those budget discussions. 

With regard to Recommendation C) to seek modification of the Court Order of August 8, 2005 in Sierra Club v. Los Angeles to allow a portion of the $5,000 per day payments to be made by LADWP be used to augment existing funding provided by LADWP under the Water Agreement to fund the Water Department, the Board and members of the audience discussed this recommendation in more detail.  Supervisor Cash indicated that she was not opposed to seeking a change in the Court Order to change the use of the penalty payment.  Supervisors Arcularius, Williams and Bilyeu expressed their continued concern with the requirements in the Long Term Water Agreement, which require the County, i.e., the taxpayers, to pay for one-half of all of the LORP “post implementation costs.”  

It was moved by Supervisor Cash, with no second to seek a modification of the Court Order in the Sierra Club v. Los Angeles to allow a portion of the $5,000 per day payments to fund the Water Department.  The motion failed on a one-to-four roll-call vote, with Supervisor Cash voting yes, and with Supervisor Arcularius, Williams, Bilyeu and Cervantes voting no. 

Moved by Supervisor Arcularius and seconded by Supervisor Bilyeu to not seek modification of the Court Order of August 8, 2005 in Sierra Club v. Los Angeles to allow a portion of the $5,000 per day payments to be made by LADWP be used to augment existing funding provided by LADWP under the Water Agreement to fund the Water Department.  Motion carried on a three-to-two vote, with Supervisors Arcularius, Williams and Bilyeu voting yes, and with Supervisors Cash and Cervantes voting no.  

Mr. Scott Kemp of the Cattlemen’s Association, addressed the Board to support the Agreement for LORP funding.  He expressed his frustration with the continued delays in the LORP implementation and explained that he felt DWP has performed the multitude of studies that could possibly be required; that no further bureaucracy, i.e., the EPA, involvement is needed; and that the project needs to move forward in order to get water put back into that section of the river.

 

Water Dept./ LADWP LORP Funding Agreement

County Counsel, Mr. Paul Bruce, provided the Board and members of the audience, with an amended Agreement concerning the LORP funding.  Mr. Greg James, Special Counsel for the Water Department, detailed the changes in the amended Agreement, highlighting the major change which was a section which would limit the parties ability to seek a change in purpose for the $5,000 Court imposed fine being paid by DWP. 

Supervisor Cash offered her apologies to County Counsel and Mr. James, explaining that during previous closed session discussions regarding this item she had supported the Agreement, but that after hearing the members of the audience express their desire to have the County negotiate for more money, she was now no longer supporting it.  She explained her reservations in not supporting the Agreement and identified the worst-case scenario, which would be that the EPA money would not materialize, that the County would still be responsible for half of the LORP construction and “post implementation” costs, and the taxpayers would have to pay all of those costs. 

The Chairperson called for public input on the proposed agreement.  Those opposing the Agreement were Mr. Derrick Vocelka, Mr. Claus Englehardt, Ms. Darla Heil, Mr. Harry Williams, Mr. Mike Prather, Ms. Teri Cewalti, Inyo County Water Commissioner, and Ms. Betty Denton, and addressed the Board to oppose the Agreement. They reiterated their positions including (a) that the County needs to make a stand against DWP; (b) that the EPA needs to continue to be involved in the project; (c) the ramifications to rejecting federal funds for the project; and (d) that the County needs to negotiate for more money.  Mr. Scott Kemp supported the Agreement and reiterated his concerns regarding continued EPA involvement in the LORP project.  

In response to several questions regarding the security of the EPA funding and the risks associated with not accepting DWP’s offer Mr. Greg James explained the following: 

(a) the EPA has said that by early 2006 explanations on why EPA grants funds have not been spent are required;

(b) that this requirement was placed on the County prior to the fall-out from the Katrina disaster being identified by the EPA; 

(c)  that there is no guarantee that EPA will allow the grant funds to be used to cover “post       implementation costs” of which the County is required to pay one-half of the costs; 

(d)  that with the cost of the Katrina disaster clean-up facing the EPA that they will not reallocate unspent EPA funds;

(e)  that LADWP has already stated their intention to not accept EPA Grant funds for this project which will give them the opportunity to certify the EIR for this project without EPA involvement;

      and

(f)   that the County will be have to meet EPA requirements on the EIS in order to receive our grant funds without having the ability to require LADWP to comply, thus leaving the County in a  situation where they will have to cover their half of the LORP costs without grant funds. 

The individual Board Members presented their position on the Agreement.  Supervisors Arcularius, Williams and Bilyeu expressed their support of the Agreement and their reasons which included:

(a)  concerns with the County meeting its requirement under the Long Term Water Agreement to pay for one-half of the LORP construction and post implementation costs, without having any  control in determining what those costs are going to be;

(b)  the potential of losing all or a portion of the EPA grant funds;

(c)  the possibility that EPA funds can not be used to pay for “post implementation” costs;

(d)  where the County will find the money to meet its commitment under the Long Term Water  Agreement to pay for half of the LORP costs, should the EPA money not materialize;

(e)  that EPA involvement is not needed because the Inyo County Water Department is more than capable of working with DWP to implement the LORP per the Long Term Water Agreement;

       and

(f)  that they were not supporting the amendment to the Agreement which states that “Neither the County nor the LADWP will seek or support any modification to the Court Order seeking to use the referenced funds for any purpose other than those purposes expressly stated in Section 2D of the Court Order, without prior written consent of the other party.

Supervisor Cervantes indicated that he has never supported the Agreement; that he feels DWP should pay for all of the LORP costs as well as pay for all of the costs associated with staffing and operating the Water Department.  Supervisor Cash reiterated that what she was hearing from the members of the audience was that they were more concerned with DWP paying more than what is currently being offered than keeping EPA involved.  She went on to say that she was willing to support that position to negotiate for more, while recognizing the risks associated with losing EPA funding and placing the additional burden of paying for the County’s LORP costs on the taxpayer.

Moved by Supervisor Arcularius and seconded by Supervisor Bilyeu to approve the attached proposed agreement as amended, and excluding that portion of the amended agreement which limits the parties ability to seek a modification of the Court Order regarding the $5,000 per day fine, without prior written consent of the other party, between the County of Inyo and the LADWP regarding funding for the LORP and authorize the Chairperson to sign the agreement.  Motion carried on a three-to-two vote, with Supervisors Arcularius, Williams, and Bilyeu voting yes, and with Supervisors Cash and Cervantes voting no.

 

Recess/

Reconvene

The Chairperson announced that the Board would reconvene in the Budget Hearings when they return from their lunch recess at 2:30 p.m.  The Chairperson recessed the regular meeting at 2:00 p.m., reconvening in open session at 3:45 p.m., with all Board Members present. 

 

Post Agenda/ Yucca Mt. Project

The Planning Director presented the Board with a request to consider a Post Agenda Item regarding the Yucca Mountain Project.  Ms. Klusmire explained that as a result of information learned during the AULG Meeting in Las Vegas and her and Supervisor Cervantes’ trip to Washington, D.C., last week, there is a need for the Board to provide direction to Staff on how to proceed with regard to legislative relief for Inyo County’s oversight funding issues.  She explained that our Federal legislators are requesting Inyo County’s support of their offer of legislative relief prior to the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting.  Moved by Supervisor Arcularius and seconded by Supervisor Cervantes to find that the need to address Yucca Mountain Oversight issues arose after the Agenda for the September 13, 2005, Board of Supervisors Meeting was posted and there is a need for the Board to take action on this item, prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting, therefore, this item is added as Agenda Item No. 7B.  Motion carried unanimously.

 

P.W./No. Inyo A.P. Adv. Comm. Appointments

Moved by Supervisor Cash and seconded by Supervisor Cervantes to appoint Mr. Rex Allen, Ms. Alice Lloyd and Mr. Randy Nixon to the Northern Inyo Airport Advisory Board to complete four-year terms ending June 30, 2009.   Motion carried unanimously.

BofS/Minute Approval

Moved by Supervisor Arcularius and seconded by Supervisor Bilyeu to approve the minutes of the September 6, 2005, Board of Supervisors Meeting.  Motion carried on a four-to-zero vote, with Supervisor Cervantes abstaining.

 

Planning-Yucca Mt./Oversight Funding

Ms. Leslie Klusmire, Planning Director, updated the Board on the AULG meeting held in Las Vegas, which she, and Supervisors Cervantes and Williams had attended.  She informed the Board that it appeared that the same issues, which confronted the County last year were facing us again this year, in that Esmeralda County is lobbying for more funding than Inyo County.  She explained that the group reached an impasse over this issue and the other AULGs had directed Inyo and Esmeralda counties to meet individually to determine this year’s oversight distribution levels.  She went on to explain that as a result of the AULG Meeting and during her and Supervisor’s Cervantes’ trip to Washington, D.C., our Federal legislators were willing to carry specific language to set Inyo County’s oversight distribution level at 7.5% in this year’s appropriation budget report language.   Ms. Klusmire explained that this offer from our legislators was what had been promised last year if the distribution issue remained a problem.  The Board and Ms. Klusmire discussed the funding issue at length, with the Board expressing their concern with the discrepancies between what was agreed upon during last year’s joint AULG meeting regarding Inyo County’s funding level and what was expected this year.  Ms. Klusmire also informed the Board that Nevada’s Senator, Harry Reid, is supporting the report language, which would guarantee Inyo County’s funding level percentage.  The Board reiterated their position that last year’s agreement to receive less oversight distribution was a one-time offer and they do not feel that a meeting with Esmeralda County would be productive. 

Moved by Supervisor Cervantes and seconded by Supervisor Bilyeu to A) support the offer of our U.S. Representatives and Senators to set the oversight distribution percentage between the states at 7.5% for California counties (Inyo County) and 92.5% for Nevada counties in this year’s appropriation budget report language; and B) decline the offer of the AULGs to meet individually with Esmeralda County to determine oversight distribution levels pending a long-term decision regarding oversight distribution funds.  Motion carried unanimously.

 

Recess/
Reconvene

The Chairperson recessed the regular meeting at 4:00 p.m., to reconvene in closed session at 6:30 p.m., with all Board Members present.

 

Closed Session

The Board reconvened in closed session to discuss Agenda Items No. 9.  CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION (Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a) – Inyo County Employees Association/AFSCME Local 315 vs. County of Inyo – PERB Case No. SA-CE-344-M; No. 10.  CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION (Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a) – Inyo County Employees Association/AFSCME Local 315 vs. County of Inyo – PERB Case No. SA-CE-345-M; No. 11.  PERSONNEL (Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957) – Public Employee Performance Evaluation Title – Director of Public Works; and No. 12.  CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR  [Pursuant to Government Code § 54957.6] - Instructions to Negotiators re: wages, salaries and benefits - Employee Organization:  ICEA - Negotiators:  CAO Ron Juliff

 

Report on Closed Session

The Chairperson recessed closed session at 7:20 p.m., to reconvene in open session, to receive a report on closed session.  County Counsel reported there were no items discussed in closed session, which were required by law to be reported on in open session. 

 

Adjournment

The Chairperson adjourned the regular meeting at 7:20 p.m., to 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 20, 2005, in the Board of Supervisors Room, at the County Administrative Center, in Independence.

 

 

 

                                                                                                ________________________________________
                                                                                               
Chairperson, Inyo County Board of Supervisors

   

Attest:   RON JULIFF
         Clerk of the Board

 

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